Jolene Buchheit / JoJo Bartlett
Jolene Buchheit Bio
Jolene spends her days in high school classrooms and hallways harvesting material for her Young Adult novels. She is always willing to discuss vital issues like which is the best peanut butter or whether Katniss should have ended up with Gale or Peeta. Personally, she is committed to helping teens become independent adults and showing them how to find a way to focus on the positive, especially when life gets hard. At home, Jolene loves to cuddle with her husband, two kids, three cats, and dog–sometimes all at once–while reading her favorite books or repeatedly watching movies based on them.
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JoJo Bartlett Author Bio
JoJo Bartlett loves soft blankets, the color blue, and laughing so hard she snorts. She's never met a chocolate chip cookie she didn't like. If you ask her husband or two kids, they will tell you she considers being called "weird" a compliment. Should the opportunity to participate in shenanigans with JoJo ever be presented to you... seize it, with both hands (or however many you have).
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1. Will you tell us about your most recent published work?
My most recent book is Who’s on First Date? By JoJo Bartlett, my pen name for books with adult material in them. It’s a sports romantic comedy about a recently heartbroken girl who spills beer at a hockey game all over the professional baseball player who was scheduled to make an appearance on the ice. A series of unintentional miscommunications and false assumptions lead to hilarity as the two continue to bump into each other. Who would have thought spilling beer, dumping popcorn, and rubbing a guy’s abs with napkins would lead to so much trouble?
2. What personal challenges do you face as a writer?
My initial response to this question used to be “finding time to write”. After talking to many friends who write several more books than I do each year, I figured out what works best for me. I make sure to open my document every day and add at least five words. It keeps my story in the front of my mind and forces me to think about how I want the next thing to happen.
Now my response to this question is just old-fashioned self-doubt AKA “impostor syndrome” when I think I’m just faking it. As if I’m not a real author because nobody is knocking down my door offering a publishing deal, or I get bad reviews, or I don’t have as many readers as I think a “real” author would. Practically every writer has rejections from agents/publishers, bad reviews, and those loved ones in their lives who have never read their books. However, I have signed with a publisher and more recently got a request for a full manuscript from the Harlequin Romance subsidiary, Carina Press. I also have way more positive reviews than negative ones and at some point, I may learn to stop reading them. Reviews are not my report card, if someone didn’t like it, that’s okay because I didn’t write it for them. In the grand scheme of things, I have made many friends from letting my stories go out into the wild. And that is what makes me a real author: I write, edit, and release my stories for anyone to read.
3. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
The yada yada yada. Every time I sit down to write a new story it’s because I have an idea for the perfect meet cute and I know how I want the story to end. A girl has a wicked crush on her nerdy, college geometry teacher’s assistant. Yada yada yada. She discovers there is so much more to like than how cute he is and how passionate he is about math. So that middle part is where I doubt my ability to keep people interested in the story. So far, I’ve managed to figure it out every time, but it would be nice if just once, I came up with the yada yada yada first.
4. What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
I would love to give up my full-time job even though I love it, so I could go back to substituting when I want to. Working at the high school gives me a lot of material and keeps me up to date on how teenagers relate to one another. However, being there full time leaves me without as much time to write.
5. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Oh boy, the truth is I don’t even talk about my first book anymore. It needs to be rewritten, because I didn’t find my writing voice until I was about 75% through writing it, but I didn’t know that until my second book was done and I looked back. However, I don’t want to go back and work on it when I have so many new stories in my head wanting to get told.
After my first book I learned to always hire a content editor, a line editor, and utilize beta readers (who weren’t my friends) to get honest feedback before I hit the publish button. I have also learned that marketing matters and have tried to improve my skills there.
6. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Will you tell us about them?
I’m currently working on Trial by Escape, the third book in my young adult urban fantasy series with Greek elements. It features the conclusion to the story while navigating an escape room type entrapment and deciphering the Sirens’ boobie traps. (Can I say boobie?)
This past week I have finished two rough drafts on co-written projects. The first is the project Carina Press wants to see again in full about Jacqui who decided to release her NYT bestselling science fiction books under a man’s pen name. Now that it is being made into a movie, she is under contract not to reveal who she is until the studio does. The only problem is that the man who is hired to play the lead thinks he knows the books better than anyone and they obviously butt heads a few times as they start to fall for one another.
The other co-written project is Blackened Magic, the story of a down on his luck warlock who sells a luck spell to a struggling college student before finals. Except he makes a mistake and now she has the dark death and destruction spell battling within her that his cartel is expecting him to deliver. Unfortunately, his usual methods of extracting a spell don’t seem to work on a human like they do on other warlocks, so her life is in extreme danger and he is her only hope.
Releasing soon is another cowritten project with my two best friends. The Three: Of the Woods is a tale of three women who are strangers until they each receive an invitation to Ireland to hear the reading of a will which grants them the ownership and responsibility to care for a castle with special circumstances. The magic of the castle and surrounding areas introduces them to a class of sexy men and women who have dedicated their lives to protecting the magical beings the castle and surrounding woods contain. As each woman’s powers begin to develop and their lives begin to intertwine, there is a variety of responses to their changing lives. None of them could have predicted what gives them the power to protect and serve.
My NaNoWriMo project will be to write book 2 in the sports romantic comedy interconnected standalone series. Tentatively titled, Pass, Set, Hit on Me about a professional women’s beach volleyball star who flirts dangerously with a stranger at a bar who ends up being the personal trainer her agent hired to help her recover from a shoulder injury.
7. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes, I read them. I deal with good ones by sharing them. The bad ones take more self-talk. I remind myself that I wrote my books for myself and the people who love them. There is no way to write a book that pleases everyone who reads it, and I won’t be the first author to prove that wrong. And that is okay.
8. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Yes! I have several characters who make appearances in more than one book, even if the worlds are completely different. Since my books all start in or near Cedar Rapids, I can make it work. Also, I put in subtle references to some of my favorite TV shows, movies, and books. I love when people are reading my books and they message me to quote a line I used and ask if I did that on purpose.
9. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
My friend and author Emily Cyr reads everything I write before I publish them. She is always challenging me to write more interesting sentences or to make a funnier joke. My adult scenes are better because she coaches me on making sure all five senses are included.
I’m cowriting a book with Cassie Leigh who has helped me be more intentional with the purpose of each chapter. She has also taught me to be patient if a scene isn’t coming to me.
I have so many author friends that I’ve made over the years and I love knowing they have my back. Terry Maggert who has taught me about Amazon marketing and author branding, Martina McAtee who is a major proponent of writing diverse books, Quinn Loftis who told me she loved my book and now I make sure everything I write would make her smile, and Kristina Circelli who edits my books and offers content suggestions.
The indie book world is friends I haven’t met yet, which is one reason why I love doing book events.
10. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t wait so long to start!!
11. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Trying to figure out how to do everything when they haven’t finished a rough draft yet. Write the story, then get help on what the next step is. If you need help getting the story out of your head, ask for help with that. I’ve had so many people say to me, “I’ve got a great story idea, you should write it.” No, thank you. I am too busy writing my own stories, get busy writing yours.
12. What’s the best way to market your books?
For perpetual sales, I’ve had the most success using Amazon marketing. For a new release, my return on investment is best when I do a blog tour with people who can post reviews. I feel my greatest weakness as an author is marketing, which I didn’t even know was part of the deal when I started writing.
13. What is your favorite childhood book?
I remember the first book I ever read completely on my own. It was a gift from my English teacher Godmother and I would hide in the closet with a flashlight to read it after I was supposed to be in bed. It was called Snow by Roy McKie and P.D. Eastman. I don’t remember what it was about, but I was so proud I could read it on my own that I’ve never forgotten what the cover looked like. Later on in my younger years, I devoured all the Babysitter’s Club, Sweet Valley High, and Lois Duncan books I could get my hands on.